K2 Black Panther firing its cannon
Republic of Korea Army K2 Black Panther main battle tank

South Korea Approves Plan to Mass-produce More K2 Black Panther Main Battle Tanks

South Korea on Thursday endorsed a mass production plan for additional K2 Black Panther main battle tanks to bolster the military’s readiness against enemy threats. The Yonhap News Agency reported that the South Korean Defense Project Promotion Committee approved the 1.94 trillion-won (US$1.46 billion) project set to run over the next five years, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). By acquiring additional K2 tanks through this project, DAPA expect them to greatly contribute to enhancing the maneuver corps’ capabilities to carry out offensive maneuver warfare.

It did not specify the number of tanks to be built under the project, which marks the fourth round of the mass production of the tanks. For the project, the government is seeking to introduce a homegrown transmission for the tank, although it would need to pass evaluations by the Defense Agency for Technology and Quality. The third mass-produced K2, which began in 2022, included an improved Battlefield Management System (BMS) with the Korean Variable Message Format (KVMF), and the Korean Commander’s Panoramic Sight (KCPS) and Korean Gunner’s Primary Sight (KGPS) with improved resolution and daytime automatic target tracking function.

Republic of Korea Army K2 Black Panther Main battle tanks
Republic of Korea Army K2 Black Panther Main battle tanks. (Photo by RKA)

The K2 Black Panther is a South Korean main battle tank designed by the Agency for Defense Development and manufactured by Hyundai Rotem. The tank’s design began in the 1990s to meet the strategic requirements of the Republic of Korea Army. Mass production commenced in 2013, and the first K2s were deployed with the South Korean armed forces in July 2014. The K2 established its first export customer in Turkey. On 13 June 2022 the Polish Ministry of Defence announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to purchase at least 180 K2 tanks for the Polish military.

The Black Panther is armed with a chrome plated CN08 120 mm 55 caliber smoothbore gun developed by the ADD and WIA (now Hyundai WIA), and is capable of hitting a 30 cm (12 in) size object at range greater than 1 km (0.62 mi). Secondary weapons include a 12.7 mm K6 Heavy Machine Gun and a 7.62 mm M60E2-1 coaxial machine gun. The trigger pull of coaxial machine gun is modified from 3 kg (6.6 lb) to 4 kg (8.8 lb) for smoother function. The K2 uses modular armor system in order to replace inner material much quicker when its damaged or whenever enhanced version is available.

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